Article by Carimah Townes, Think Progress
It’s been one month since the New Jersey legislature passed a bill to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with medical marijuana, and patients who could benefit from the policy shift are still hanging in the balance. Gov. Chris Christie (R) has yet to approve or veto the bill, and his past reluctance to change marijuana rules doesn’t bode well for those who want to broaden the scope of medical treatment.
With Assembly Bill 457’s fate up in the air, close to 18,000 people have signed a petition circulated by The Joint Blog on Change.org, asking the governor to support the legislation. The petition points to studies published in two health journals, the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy and Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, which concluded that cannabis produces medical benefits for patients with PTSD, including veterans.
To date, New Jersey’s Department of Health allows doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for 12 conditions, such as terminal cancer, seizure disorders, and multiple sclerosis. Despite scientific research and overwhelming support from state lawmakers, Christie, whose time as governor comes to an end in January, has been slow to make PTSD the next treatable condition.
If Christie doesn’t take any action, the bill will automatically become law on September 16. But if New Jersey residents want him to vocalize support, they are likely fighting an uphill battle. During his time as governor, Christie has opposed the expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program, which went into effect in 2010. And patients have paid the price.
In 2013, 4-year-old Vivian Wilson became a mascot for medical marijuanadue to Christie’s hesitance to make edible marijuana available to minors. Wilson suffered from aggressive seizures, but it took immense public pressure from lawmakers and constituents for the governor to ease the restrictions that effectively prevented minors from accessing treatment. In the end, he signed a bill permitting dispensaries to produce edibles for children, but Wilson’s family was forced to move to Colorado in 2014 because production was far too slow.